3.21.2009

the civil war

over the past few weeks, i've been watching the ken burns film, the civil war. besides the impression left from heartbreaking accounts of battles and lives lost, i have been so impressed by the photographs in this film. it is a very long film, and i have found that it rarely uses the same photographs twice, and even when it does, its uses are spread out so far from each other, you almost do not notice.

i have seen these kinds of photos before—yellowed, mildewed, cracked photos—whether in books or films or even antique stores. but never before this film have i been so taken with the photographs of this era. every photo in this film just captivates me and draws me in. i am so intrigued—with the subject matter, the conditions in which they were taken, the image quality, the fact that these photos have survived over 125 years.

and i noticed how in many of them, the skies are light or almost white—it's one of the things that give them such a recognizably vintage quality. i don't know if it because of the primitive camera of that time—a longer shutter speed? i'm not sure—i'm not a camera techy {although i want to be}.

i'm just guessing it has to do with the shutter speed, because of a comment left on this post, which is where i got the picture for the post you are reading now. the comment stated that the weird effect on my photos was perhaps because the "shutter was hanging a bit." but that is exactly why i loved these photos—the white sky and washed out feel. they seemed vintage to me. so i thought i would take one of them and turn it into a black and white picture and add the sepia filter. sure enough, it had the effect i was looking for—it looks a lot like some of the photos from the film.

i was also struck in this film by the compassion of walt whitman. i learned how much he had gone to these military hospitals where the wounded lay sick and dying. he would recite his poetry to them, giving them a sense of peace in the midst of the hell all around them. i was already somewhat familiar with the life and poetry of walt whitman, but i have come to like him even more since watching this film.

it really is a good film. it is sad—like i said, heartbreaking. it is all new to me again. in high school, it was just history lessons. now it is to me a horrible part of america's history that saddens me and moves me. but i am also very different from having watched it. it puts a lot in perspective. it makes me so glad that that chapter of slavery is over {although it angers me that slavery exists anywhere still today}. but it also puts my job loss in a different light. being unemployed does not seem so devastating after i watch what these men, women, and even children went through during those awful four years—as well as what the slaves endured for years before.

3 comments:

Haphazardkat said...

I would love to watch that movie for the photography you mentioned--but I've reached a stage in my life where I can't handle sad movies anymore. They haunt me and that lingers with me for weeks.
Side note: My great (don't know how many greats...) Uncle was Robert E Lee :)
I found that out after I found my birth family.

Char said...

and that is what makes photography art - it spoke to you. beautiful processing.

I'm with Kat - since mom passed I find I can't watch movies where I know I have to cry. It seems I cry enough...even though I feel compassion for what everyone had to deal with during that time (and today).

~B~ said...

I think the effect on your photo is very appealing. I also love the subject of your post. I have always loved learning about the Civil War. I think it is sad that so many people really do not know about the civil war. YOu have to do so much reading and research to find truth. Like one reason. It started MOSTLY because of state rights. That the goverment was trying to lessen the states decsions. People think it was about slavery. It became that during the war. BUT did not start it. =)

I am glad that horrible trend is over in Amercia, that those 4yrs thankful have never happened again. God Bless Amercia. =)